From Canby and Caledonia to Fergus Falls and Breckenridge, MREA members are speaking out and asking for more regarding the Minnesota legislature’s proposed general education funding increase of 1 percent each of the next two years (commonly referred to as “1&1 on the formula”).

Letters to newspaper editors and community members from rural school administrators across Minnesota indicate teacher cuts, fewer class electives, and increased class sizes are on the way if the Legislature spends one percent or less on the education funding formula.

Speaking Out

A 1 percent increase would result in $38,869 additional for school year 2015-16 and another $79, 371 for school year 2016-17 Canby Independent School District #891. “These proposed increases over the next two years do not even come close to covering inflations costs of utilities, maintenance and repairs and supplies,” said Laura Schuster, Superintendent of Canby schools in a letter to the Canby News. “The school district will be faced with some very difficult decisions.”

Barb Meyer, Business Manager at Caledonia Area Public Schools, also shared the grim prospects for her district in a letter to Representative Greg Davids. “A 1 percent increase for our district next year would be approximately $42,000 additional revenue. A 1 percent salary increase on just our teachers’ salary (with steps and lane changes) will be $95,878.80.”

Breckenridge Superintendent Diane Cordes also reached out to area legislators, the media, and the Governor’s office. “All agreed that we need more funding on the general formula and said they would push hard for that.”

These results are in line with what 124 superintendents across Greater Minnesota have shared with MREA through its 1&1 survey this spring. View the survey results.

Where It Stands

However, the $17 billion education bill passed by the Senate last week, while adding $365 million for new education spending, added just 1 percent each year to the general formula. The Pioneer Press reported that Senators from both political parties hoped the formula funding would increase when the bill goes to conference committee. Learn more about the Conference Committee.

Fergus Falls Public Schools will place a number of staff on a proposed Unrequested Leave of Absence (ULA) and probationary termination list for next year if the formula increase remains at 1 percent, said Superintendent Jerry Ness in his Superintendent’s Column. “We are projecting an increase in expenses of 3 percent. The District’s general fund reserve is not sufficient to absorb a 2% growth in expenditures.”